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A New York Times bestseller when it appeared in 1989, Roger Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind was universally hailed as a marvelous survey of modern physics as well as a brilliant reflection on the human mind, offering a new perspective on the scientific landscape and a visionary glimpse of the possible future of science. Now, in Shadows of the Mind, Penrose offers another exhilarating look at modern science as he mounts an even more powerful attack on artificial intelligence. But perhaps more important, in this ...
A New York Times bestseller when it appeared in 1989, Roger Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind was universally hailed as a marvelous survey of modern physics as well as a brilliant reflection on the human mind, offering a new perspective on the scientific landscape and a visionary glimpse of the possible future of science. Now, in Shadows of the Mind, Penrose offers another exhilarating look at modern science as he mounts an even more powerful attack on artificial intelligence. But perhaps more important, in this volume he points the way to a new science, one that may eventually explain the physical basis of the human mind.
Penrose contends that some aspects of the human mind lie beyond computation. This is not a religious argument (that the mind is something other than physical) nor is it based on the brain's vast complexity (the weather is immensely complex, says Penrose, but it is still a computable thing, at least in theory). Instead, he provides powerful arguments to support his conclusion that there is something in the conscious activity of the brain that transcends computation—and will find no explanation in terms of present-day science. To illuminate what he believes this "something" might be, and to suggest where a new physics must proceed so that we may understand it, Penrose cuts a wide swathe through modern science, providing penetrating looks at everything from Turing computability and Godel's incompleteness, via Schrodinger's Cat and the Elitzur-Vaidman bomb-testing problem, to detailed microbiology. Of particular interest is Penrose's extensive examination of quantum mechanics, which introduces some new ideas that differ markedly from those advanced in The Emperor's New Mind, especially concerning the mysterious interface where classical and quantum physics meet. But perhaps the most interesting wrinkle in Shadows of the Mind is Penrose's excursion into microbiology, where he examines cytoskeletons and microtubules, minute substructures lying deep within the brain's neurons. (He argues that microtubules—not neurons—may indeed be the basic units of the brain, which, if nothing else, would dramatically increase the brain's computational power.) Furthermore, he contends that in consciousness some kind of global quantum state must take place across large areas of the brain, and that it within microtubules that these collective quantum effects are most likely to reside.
For physics to accommodate something that is as foreign to our current physical picture as is the phenomenon of consciousness, we must expect a profound change—one that alters the very underpinnings of our philosophical viewpoint as to the nature of reality. Shadows of the Mind provides an illuminating look at where these profound changes may take place and what our future understanding of the world may be.
A visionary glimpse of the possible future of science by one of the world's leading physicists. Penrose points toward a new science that may eventually explain the physical basis of the mind--and introduces new ideas on the mysterious interface where classical and quantum physics meet.
|Notes to the reader|
|Pt. I||Why We Need New Physics to Understand the Mind: The Non-Computability of Conscious Thought|
|1||Consciousness and computation||7|
|2||The Godelian case||64|
|3||The case for non-computability in mathematical thought||127|
|Pt. II||What New Physics We Need to Understand the Mind: The Quest for a Non-Computational Physics of Mind|
|4||Does mind have a place in classical physics?||213|
|5||Structure of the quantum world||237|
|6||Quantum theory and reality||307|
|7||Quantum theory and the brain||348|
Posted April 9, 2005
Posted October 8, 2001
THESE BOOKS ( THE EMPERSOR'S NEW MIND AND SHADOWS OF THE MIND ) ARE A PECULIAR LESSON BROUGHT FROM ONE OF THE BEST MIND OF THE PLANET ON HOW LOGIC AND KNOWLEDGE MAY BE MERGED TO FIND NEW INSIGHTS . I RECOMMEND THE READING TO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS , FRESHMEN , SCIENTIST INVOLVED WITH A.I AND ANYONE ( GRADUATE TOO ) WHO SEEKS A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF HOW LOGIC MAY BE APPLIED TO SCIENCE . I REGARD THESE BOOKS AS MILESTONE , A SERIOUS AND CRISTAL CLEAR EXPLANATION NOT JUST ABOUT LIMITS OF CONTEMPORARY PHYSICS BUT OF THE HUMAN KNOWLEDGE ITSELF, SUCH REMARKABLE WORKS THAT EVERYONE WHO CARE ABOUT HUMAN UNDERSTANDING SHOULD BENEFICT FROM .Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.